BRONX, NY, January 31 — Braving freezing temperatures, 500 Stella D’Oro strikers and supporters marched down Broadway chanting, “No Contract, No Cookies!”
As CHALLENGE readers know, the 135 Stella strikers are 100% solid on the line. They’ve been out for nearly six months but are determined not to let the Brynwood bosses (who own Stella D’Oro) bust their union and take away holidays, healthcare benefits and sick days, while demanding annual wage-cuts for the next five years.
While the strike involves a limited number of workers, it is significant on two counts: (1) it not only sets an example of militant workers fighting back against the bosses’ attempts to make workers take the losses resulting from the bosses’ crisis; and (2) it involves predominantly black and Latino workers — who, because of racism, suffer disproportionately from the bosses’ attacks — giving leadership to the whole working class.
This march and rally was larger and more spirited than previous ones. Supporters came from the PSC (Professional Staff Congress-CUNY), the teachers union, District Council 37, RWDSU (supermarket employees), nurses from the NYS Nurses Association, other unions and the community. But critically important, most speeches at the closing rally were by the strikers, not politicians who had dominated earlier rallies.
PSC’s president vowed continuing support for the struggle, telling Stella strikers that, “You must win; we cannot allow you to lose.” A George Washington H.S. student took the mic and showed the crowd support letters from his fellow students and funds collected at their school.
In sharp contrast to this genuine display of solidarity from working-class youth was the shameful performance of Ed Ott, NYC Central Labor Council director. He appeared for only a few minutes at the pre-march rally. When someone in the crowd called out, “Ed, Ed, tell us how much money the Central Labor Council has given to support the struggle,” his pathetic answer was, “We haven’t been asked yet.”
PLP members have played an active role throughout the strike. At the closing rally, a PL speaker explained how the Stella workers inspired all workers and how communist revolution is necessary to eliminate the bosses and their system. During the rallies and march, 555 people bought CHALLENGES.
When some phony leftists chanted, “People’s power,” PL’ers overrode it with “Workers’ Power!” And when they said, “People, united, will never be defeated,” PL’ers responded with, “Workers, united…” In both cases, the great majority of the crowd joined PL’s most class-conscious chants. PLP opposes the slogan of “people’s power” because it means an alliance of workers with bosses and politicians.
One weakness in the strike is scabs working in the plant. It’s estimated that production in 30% of normal. With mass support at the picket line, stopping scabs becomes possible. While workers try to build a successful city-wide boycott of Stella products, the bosses’ strategy may be to take losses until August when the strikers’ benefits run out.
PL organizers are encouraging greater militancy. The Stella workers can reach out to other members of Local 50 in other bakeries and to other locals of the bakers’ international union.
In picket line conversations we have found that the workers are interested in discussing political questions, such as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the collapse of Wall Street, and how these events will affect the working class. One worker e-mailed us a set of pictures showing the horrors resulting from the Israeli invasion and massacre in Gaza.
Many strikers are reading CHALLENGE. We plan to organize a contingent of Stella workers and their families and friends to attend this year’s
May Day dinner. Fight the bosses! Build the Party!